A film poem about a continent at night, a culture on which the sun’s going down, though it’s hyper alert at the same time, an “Abendland” that, often somewhat self-obsessively, sees itself as the crown of human civilization, while its service economy is undergoing rapid growth in a thoroughly pragmatic way. Nikolaus Geyrhalter takes a look at a paradise with a quite diverse understanding of protection. Night work juxtaposed with oblivious evening digression, birth and death, questions that await answers in the semi-darkness, a Babel of languages, the routine of the daily news, and political negotiation: All this has been captured in images with a wealth of details that make us look at things in a new way.
The longer you consider a word, the more distant is its return gaze: ABENDLAND.
The Millennium Award and €8000 in prize money went to Nicolaus Geyrhalter's Abendland. The Millennium Award Jury also selected Thomas Imbach's Day is Done for an Honorable Mention.
From the verdict of the Millenium Jury:
Showing the underbelly of civilization as seen at night, Abendland is a powerful indictment done with Nikolaus Geyrhalter's unique flair for composition and pacing. Abendland means "the west" in German, or literally "evening land." As seen in "Our Daily Bread," his earlier film about industrialized agriculture, Geyerhalter applies a cold, clinical, and quite sharp critique of the extraordinary and unsustainable amount of technology, security and other means that maintain European cities -- from the high fences and constant patrols that keep Africans from getting into Spain to the simulated police trainings. Memorable vignettes throughout including a police crackdown on nuclear activists attempting to block a train car of nuclear waste, a mega-rave, a pornography shoot, a mail sorting facility, and much more. There are occasional lighthearted moments that crop up in this thorough indictment of "progress" and "modernity," all done without narration. What's remarkable is that Geyerhalter's distinctive voice and touch come through undiluted. Geyerhalter allows us to crawl down the manhole of the modern world to see what allows everything above ground to exist.
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